Hastings United’s current leading scorer and appearance maker this season has become the latest player to commit to the football club for next term.
Davide Rodari, who has netted 11 goals and played 43 times for the first team in 2017/18, has signed a contract until the end of the 2018/19 campaign with an option for the following year.
He follows Dayshonne Golding, Charlie Horlock, Sam Cruttwell and Adam Lovatt in committing for next term.
Hastings manager Chris Agutter said: “He’s doing really well and you just know how much potential he’s got. The kid’s only going to improve and he’s going to be a big part of what I believe will be a title-challenging side.
“He’s very ambitious, like myself, and wants to play as high as possible. He knows how professionally we do things and thinks he can develop in that environment.
“There’s a quiet momentum building about next season. I’m very stubborn in my belief that we’re firmly moving in the right direction. I’m really excited by it.”
Rodari has operated in the central striker’s role in recent weeks following the departure of Calum Davies (who remains Hastings’ overall leading scorer this term with 13) and Agutter admitted he wonders if the team would be in a better position had he played Rodari there earlier.
As it is, Hastings sit 10th in Bostik League Division One South heading into the busy Easter weekend. They will host ninth-placed Phoenix Sports today (Saturday) before travelling to 21st-placed East Grinstead Town on Monday.
“Phoenix are very well organised, well-drilled, well-coached,” continued Agutter, who watched the Bexleyheath-based outfit against Chipstead recently.
“That will be a test, but the way they set up to play and the way we set up to play, I’m backing us to get a win there. It’s another opportunity to reinforce our decent home form.
“East Grinstead will be a tough one. They’re not a bad side, they’ve got good individuals, again they’re well-coached and they will offer us a different test.
“I think East Grinstead will want to have a game of football against us, similar to Walton (who Hastings beat 1-0 two weeks ago), and that will suit us. Both games will be difficult, but both games we’ll be looking to win.
“We’ll definitely look to rotate the squad and there definitely will be opportunities for players who maybe haven’t picked up as many minutes recently.”
Ollie Rowe should be back after missing last weekend’s come-from-behind 2-1 win away to Faversham Town (read a report on that match here) through illness, but Cruttwell is struggling with a recurrence of the knock which kept him out of the Walton match.
Agutter also praised young Sonny Dullaway, who featured as a substitute at Faversham as he continues his comeback following a long injury lay-off.
Of the Faversham win, Agutter said: “It was really good. We won in a different way. We tried to play (on a difficult pitch) early on, got caught a couple of times and didn’t deal with the long ball.
“But we didn’t panic and showed how far we’ve come. When we’ve gone behind previously, you’ve seen a bit of anxiety creep in to the way we play. But we ground our way back into the game and did the ugly things well.
“We got the goal at a good time - it changed the half time team-talk - then went 2-1 up and saw the game out very professionally.”
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